Written by: Dan Sehn
Illustrated by: Various
Published by: Argo Comics
As the comic lines of the mainstream companies become more and more like nothing but promotion and/or reflection of whatever movies they are putting out at the time, I find myself paying a lot more attention to independent companies and the wonderful word of small press/self publishing. It is truly a joy to see a comic book with a small distribution and small audience grow over time, which brings me to the subject of this installment of Sequential Thoughts… Argo Comics ARGO 5.
If I had to write a teaser description of the series in one sentence, I would say that it’s a super-team book that brings beings of great power “down to Earth”.
Now 11 issues old (ten regular issues plus a “zero” issue), ARGO 5 is the brainchild of writer Dan Sehn, who has managed to create a small line of comics (he also writes a Sorority of Power ongoing and has completed an Argo Comics Anthology mini-series) and a super-hero universe that reflects all of the things he obviously loved and enjoyed about comics while growing up. Namely, super-hero team comics that are fun and freewheeling, packed with action and drama and humor. The twist with ARGO 5, though, is that he adds a modern real world sensibility to the characters in terms of relationships. I have read other comics that have done similar things, but Sehn has managed to make ARGO 5 feel very unique in the world of self published super-hero comics. In addition to the straight up action and soap opera elements, he mixes in many elements of the last four decades of popular culture, which not only makes the book very endearing to those of us in geek culture, but also leaves you guessing where he’s going to go next with the narrative.
Most of the issues can stand on their own as individual, self-contained stories, but there is also a definite ongoing feel, as characters’ pasts are slowly hinted at and revealed over the course of the series. We also get plenty of cross references between ARGO 5 and the other titles from Argo Comics and, in the case of issue #3, universes beyond as he collaborated on a “jam” style story with five other properties from various small press creators.
Most of all, I enjoy the fact that ARGO 5 has kept getting better with each issue, and that Sehn’s sense of commitment to his projects is apparent. With many self publishing ventures in the world of comics, you see one or two issues come out, get interested, and then never see another one. Argo Comics had been consistently publishing their titles with no stop or end in sight, so you can get invested without the usual worry about seeing another issue. He wrote and drew the first issue, but then quickly and smartly realized that his vision extended beyond his ability to juggle both tasks consistently, and began to recruit some very talented artists that would fit the kind of universe he wanted to create while maintaining a steady publishing schedule. The result is a very entertaining mix of artistic styles that keep the action moving and make the characters seem like more than just one-dimensional visions.
The team itself is a very diverse mix of powers and genres, including straight forward super-heroes, mythology, science fiction/cosmic, magic, and martial arts. That allows Sehn to tell just about any kind of story he wants and to mix and mash genres as well. The current issue, #10, includes a really fun love letter to the Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the 70’s in the context of a story that began with the previous issue. So, if you want to try it out, #9 and 10 is a fine place to start and gives you a little taste of everything this fun series has to offer. I look forward to whatever twists, turns, and surprises that ARGO 5 will provide into the future.
All Argo Comics can be found for purchase at: http://indyplanet.com/store/index.php?manufacturers_id=4417